I'd like some advice on my meditation practice. At the moment I have not had any formal training but plan to get in contact with local meditation groups and monasteries so that I can get some more formal guidance. As there are so many different practices and techniques available on the web, I think I need a nudge in the right direction.
I currently sit for around 15 minutes to half an hour a day alternating three different practices throughout the week: Metta, a meditation where I note the in and out breaths around the stomach area and any intruding thoughts and feelings, sounds ect., and where I concentrate on the breath around the tip of the nose and try to breathe "with the whole body". I think this last one is Anapanasati.
My problem is that I am not entirely sure what I am supposed to be looking for, or what I am supposed to "achieve", if anything. I have the feeling that if am not sure what direction I should be going in in terms of goals then I may get lost or stuck in a rut.
On a similar note I have been listening to talks by Thanissaro Bhikkhu and he recommends trying to attain at least the first Jhana in order that one won't crave sense pleasure - what do members think of this?
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."